Advent acquires Argentinean postal services co

The purchase of OCA is one of the first major private equity investments in the country since Argentina devalued its currency in January 2002.

Boston-based private equity firm Advent International has bought all the shares of Argentinean private postal and courier company S.A. OCA.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, according to a press statement.

Founded in 1961, OCA was the first private courier company in Argentina, which is one of a small number of countries with a deregulated postal system. The Buenos Aires-headquartered company currently employs approximately 5,500 employees and 900 delivery vans that serve more than 8,000 corporate customers, according to the statement.

Since December 2002, OCA has been operating under Argentinean bankruptcy protection after it failed to pay certain loan payments in 2001 following a nationwide recession. The company currently has $280 million in debt, but according to the statement, Advent expects to straighten out OCA’s financial situation by the middle of 2004.

“OCA has a compelling business model, experienced management, and potentially attractive profitability and cash flow,” said Ernest Bachrach,  chief executive of Advent’s Latin American operations.  “The company’s heavy debt burden has prevented it from making the capital investments needed to develop its business over the last three years. Once that burden has been lifted, it will be free to take the steps that will enable it to achieve its growth potential.”

Advent is one of the longest-operating private equity investors in the region, having been in Latin America since 1996 and currently invested in 21 Latin American companies with a total enterprise value of $800 million.

In August, Advent announced it would sell Arlington, Texas-based money transfer portfolio company Latin America Money Services (LAMS) LLC and an operating subsidiary, DolEx Dollar Express, to Global Payments for approximately $200 million. The firm, through the LAMS holding company, had originally acquired a controlling interest in DolEx in October 2000 with an investment from its $225 million Latin American Private Equity Fund I formed in 1996.

Advent currently operates from its second fund in the region, Latin American Private Equity Fund II, which closed on $265 million in July 2002. The fund is currently the largest private equity vehicle for investing in Latin America raised in the last three years.

Advent International currently manages approximately $6 billion and has operations in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.